Mauritius:Health standards in public hospitals have been in the public eye as the island nation struggles with constant union action

 The two ministries voice their respective concerns for health workers in the country is a priority and seek to change the working conditions of workers exposed to health risks in hospitals and clinics around Mauritius and to safeguard new health and safety regulations and laws.

The Prime Minister’s office also stated that “high-risk groups” were a concern for the government, which it says that children coupled with persons diagnosed with HIV/Aids and terminal illnesses will be covered under the programs umbrella as well

The aim of the program is to better co-ordinate and implement occupational health and safety measures and to sensitize health workers on the importance of applying “diligent” procedures in the work place 
and to reduce hazards that health workers can be exposed too according to government officials of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Additionally, further measures will be taken to stem the effects of transmission of disease in hospitals and clinics nationwide. The scheme also obliges employers to provide “appropriate” training to health care staff.

Around 25 000 workers and health care professionals are covered under the program, which will entail detailed workshops and vocational training in occupational health and safety aspects according to the Prime Minister’s office.

The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment has stated that concerns of health workers currently were OSH legislation and management system, risk assessment, HIV/AIDS prevention, healthy living habits, fire safety, and the prevention of violence at work.

Alcohol, tobacco, substance abuse and stress management in the work place imposed strong health risks as well.
Shakeel Mohammed, Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment stated to journalists that his ministry is concerned about the welfare of workers and that new guidelines will implemented for people frequently exposed to health dangers in hospitals.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, in 2011 the governments Occupational Health AND Safety department undertook 2957 inspections in workplaces around the island, although this has come under much 
criticism because unions say it is a smoke screen for the public and a knee-jerk reaction to an already stressed health care system.

However, this new scheme comes with robust criticism from nursing unions in the country, and in coincidence with industrial action recently by the nursing unions that poor sanitary conditions in hospitals and clinics was a concern and that working conditions in some clinics and hospitals were at a “poor “standard”.

Moreover, better pay conditions are to be met by the government claims the union leaders, as the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life comes under constant fire recently with many unions expressing their dissatisfaction with existing health policies.

Linley Bignoux is a Journalist,Photojournalist and Underwater Photographer.He is the Mauritius Correspondent and based and living on the island of Mauritius since 2010

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